image By Tanya.  Have you ever opened one of the Disney Parks? One of my Disney dreams is to someday have my family chosen to open the Magic Kingdom, ride in on Casey Jr. with Mickey and throw Pixie Dust over the crowd! What a spectacular memory that would be!

Our family has been chosen to be the first family in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and we opened the park with our son when he was 6. It ranks as one of our favorite Disney memories. We shook rain sticks, banged drums and then raced toward Expedition Everest while everyone else was fiddling with turnstiles and tickets! We also got a certificate stating we were the first to enter the park that day, our own Photopass photographer for the event and a free 5×7 voucher to choose one of our photos!

So just how are you chosen to open a Disney park? Disney would have you to believe that this is a random occurrence. And, while some “randomness” does come into play. I believe there are a few tips any family can use to up their odds so to speak.

First and foremost, arrive early, arrive early, arrive early. If you are not at the turnstiles well before opening, you will not be in the running. There is no chance to be chosen if you are not at the park’s gate well before opening time.

The next tip is to befriend the turnstile cast members. In my experience, there is usually a cast member or two that are “in charge” of making the selection. It’s hard to tell who they are exactly, but when we were chosen for Animal Kingdom’s opening family, it was clear there was a cast member that was in charge of the selection and she was roaming about the “early” crowd looking for candidates! Talk to the cast members, ask questions, tell them about your kids, your trip and where you are from. I believe this helps your chance of being chosen. Our son had fallen down after standing on a planter box and skinned his knee. A cast member was asking us if he was alright after I gave him a band-aide and we struck up a small conversation. It happened to be the same cast member who chose us for the opening….coincidence? While I don’t recommend tossing your child off a Disney planter box….it might help. Be lively! Be “the” Disney family. Make your presence known, but don’t be obnoxious….there is a fine line to walk here.

My last tip is to dress your family alike. I know, I know, I hear the collective sigh of every dad in America. Don’t be afraid to walk on the wild side here dads! Sacrifice your pride for a wonderful family memory. I can’t promise it will happen, but I do believe it helps! First of all, you will be able to spot your family and children in the crowd….and so will the cast member looking for a family to open the park!! While this is not the deciding factor…and not always the case, start watching the families who are chosen. Often they are dressed alike, in Disney gear, or in bright colors! When our family opened Animal Kingdom, you guessed it, matching shirts!

So, try these tips next time you go to a Disney Park. If you are selected to open a Disney Park, remember to be gracious for the honor! Thank your cast members, smile and live it up! After all you likely were selected for some reason. (And, matching shirts really might help!)

Here’s to Magical Memories,



About the Author

Tanya ()

I am a wife, mother of three, and teacher who loves all things Disney. I am thrilled to contribute my thoughts and ideas with you via My Dreams of Disney. I pride myself on planning Disney trips for my family that are filled with magic, yet affordable.

6 Responses to “Tanya’s Tips for being selected as First Family at Disney!”

  1. I had a question that I was hoping someone can answer. My family and I will be taking our first ever Disney vacation, we will not be staying at a Disney resort we will be driving to Magic Kingdom. Are we allowed to park in Disney’s parking lot two hours before opening and be able to wait in line?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!
    Thank you! :)

    • Good morning Alysia! Sorry for the delay in replying! From what I’ve been able to find out, the parking complex at the Disney parks opens about 2 hours prior to the park opening, so yes, you should be able to get there early and park and then wait in line. Good luck, and have a Magical trip!


  2. Our family was chosen to be the first family at MK on 9/22/15. If anyone has a video I’d love to see it! We got photos from the photographer including 1 free 8×10, two golden fast passes, and a ride to the castle in a fire truck. It was the best day ever! We showed up just before 9. We were not dressed in anything special. I was on the phone trying for the hundredth time to make reservations at the castle and finally got them when a lady asked our daughter if we wanted to open the park. I was distracted trying to find my reservation number and credit card when we were led up a walkway to the train and opening cast. Luckily my husband figured out what was going on and dragged me along. The kids are pretty cute and were actually behaving well that morning. Otherwise,no idea why they picked us. It was awesome though! We’ve all had our 15 minute of fame now!